Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How To Use A GTD Checklist

If it's your desire to become a black belt at getting things done, then you need to start developing a GTD checklist for everything you need to do.

Why? To get everything else off of your mind.

You see, as good as getting things done is, I don't think that it goes far enough in emptying the brain of the mundane tasks that I have to each and every day. I want to wake up and know what I need to do without thinking.

Once you've got your system in place and it's working for you, then you need to perfect it and you do that by breaking everything down into a gtd checklist.

You want to be like the NFL coach with the big sheet of paper that tells you what to do in every situation that you might face during the day. Ever wonder why they do that? It's because they have spent hours and hours of time knowing every decision they'll need to make in a game and boiled it down to one big checklist. You need to do the same.

The Daily Review GTD Checklist

Use your planning time to plot out what the perfect day would look like if it happened exactly as you planned it. At first, you may not be sure what the perfect day should look like and so therefore, you'll want to start small and write down what you do in the course of a day.

Get up at 7am
Walk for 30 minutes
Eat a breakfast
Take a shower
Get email inbox to zero
Check voice mail
Empty physical inbox

And so on. Break everything down and don't leave anything out. The more specific you are the better. When your daily review GTD checklist is complete, you won't have to think about what you need to do you'll have already thought that part out and you can get right down to doing. When you are not sure what the next action is, you can review your GTD checklist to see.

I suggest that you break your list down into at least two parts:

1. A morning checklist
2. And, an end of day checklist

Don't worry if you compile a long checklist. Most of the actions, you do anyway and this will make things more of a habit for you.

The benefits of doing this are:

1. You'll know each thing you need to do everyday.
2. You won't forget to review anything
3. You'll know what done looks like, or when work is finished.

That last one is a big one.

I work for myself and therefore, am constantly thinking about work. Work never seems to be done. Even with David Allen's getting things done system, gtd made me feel better about knowing what had to be done, but not when I could call it quits for the day and know I didn't forget anything important.

Getting Things Done Fast

Once you know what you have to do, the next thing you can work on once your GTD checklist is complete is the speed you do it. Make a place to note the time you started working on your checklist and when you finished.

Once you've completed a daily review as well as weekly review, you'll know that you have mastered your workflow when you then see how fast you can get through it, and later learn how to delegate it.

I can't tell you how great it is to know:

I've reviewed all my voice mail, email and physical inboxes and they are at zero
I've review my calendar to know what is on my plate for the day
I've completed my checklist to know that I've got a system I'm working and know what done looks like

Get to work mastering your workflow today by analyzing your work to the smallest component. A GTD system is not complete with out a daily review GTD checklist.